packportraitbwI’m tired. I struggle with discouragement. I have my doubts and fears. Sometimes existence seems a dreary burden.

I do this to myself, you see. I am a believer in God and actually trust that He has spoken to us, and has visited us, and dwells within many, and has forever plans for us. And yet I struggle on. Am I the voice in U2’s ‘80s hit crying out, “…but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”?

I relate in a very deep way with the man Simon (ironically renamed by Messiah, “Rock”) who was thereafter more like shifting sand. Impulsive, confused, and in the end, cowardly like the rest—and inclined to speak before thinking.

Much of what Yeshua did and said in the presence of this man and the others was inscrutably difficult to understand. How much more perplexing would it be later on The Hill of the Skull? On one such occasion of mystery, their Master said something mind-blowing and impossible. Formerly interested and intrigued individuals were walking away now in unbelieving disgust (and Yeshua was not attempting to dissuade them). We can tell that the “inner circle” of these disciple adherents were also rocked to the core and considering their options. So Messiah asks them a question and when He does I feel the point of it speaking to me. “Do you also want to leave me?”  I don’t know what Simon Peter was thinking, but if I’m being honest, I’m actually seriously considering His question. Yet when I hear the man’s response I resonate with it as my own: “Where else would I go? You have the words of life.”

There it is. My confession. Here I stand, I can do no other.

For all my fault and failure. For all my ignorance of things others may know. For all my doubt, I cannot escape the fact that coming into contact with my Savior has changed me and I cannot elude it, nor do I want to. It is my own, subjective experience and hardly qualifies as proof in a court of law, yet I cannot deny that Life has touched my death and changed me.

I have seen it in the confidence and confession of my dying parents, and theirs before them. I have known it in my deepest pain and sorrows—an inexplicable calm, and even a joy. When not even trying, I have seen, as it were, the “fingerprints of God” every place I turn. I have experienced his voice as if in the very air I breathe. I have seen lives become amazingly changed by these “words of life”—not the least of which, is my very own.  Oh, how do I describe the nearness, the inspired word at the unexpected, but exact moment of need? Can you describe the taste of ice cream to someone who has never heard of it?  I’m amazed, often enough, by the one who just left me with my jaw on the floor because I could plainly discern, in what they just said to me, an answer, a rebuke, a challenge or encouragement, that came from them, yes, but also from the One who made them. There is too much to tell. This is the assurance of my convictions.

We all have our convictions. To the degree we possess them we will quite naturally struggle a bit with those who possess conflicting convictions. In fact, as has been said, “The pinnacle of tolerance is only achieved by those unencumbered by conviction.”

So I see in the public discourse a good deal of “righteous indignation” at the heretics across the way. I am sometimes one of them  Maybe you are too?  It’s funny (but not amusing) to me how two parties can BOTH be smugly self-righteous and scandalized by EACH OTHER!  Seems a bit like the armies of the Union and the armies of the Confederacy both praying to the same God with the supplication that they be vindicated and their cause upheld. They both can’t be right. Perhaps both were correct in this or that point but both wrong in the way that only God sees clearly. Perhaps then, the greatest test of our authenticity and our possession of the Truth in the end may be how we deal with the one who truly is most unlike us. Someone has said that we only love God as much as the person we like the least. It has also been said that people need loving the most when they deserve it the least (it was hanging on a plaque plainly visible from the toilet seat in my parent’s home).

If I’m right, I must ask myself if I can love and serve and do the right thing by my most strident opponent. I can let them be. I can let them think what they want to think and try to understand. I can do them no harm (of any kind).  If they agree with me, perhaps they can “cut me some slack” for believing in an invisible God and attempting to comport my life according to what I believe He has actually said and done in history. Consider me a fool, if you like, and do as you like. In the end it will be none of us who determines the conclusion. But my money’s still on Israel’s God and the One He dispatched to rescue us. You may believe you have no need for such a thing—but I know that I do.

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